The Empire State Ride is lucky to have the support of professional-level cycling coach Charlie Livermore as an advisor and friend. Charlie is not only a coach at Carmichael Training Systems, but also a training consultant on our adventure across New York State. He offers his expertise and tips to all ESR riders and joins us on the road each July to ride 500+ miles.
The Training Plans
Hi, everyone. Coach Charlie here.
I’m happy to announce that the 2024 ESR Training Plans are now available.
As a coach, I’ve been challenged to provide the right advice for a wide a range of riders. The training load necessary for an advanced rider is too much for a beginner and the correct dose for a beginner will not help an advanced rider. To make it easy, I divided the ESR rider community into categories and created three versions of the training plan.
Advanced Training Plan
The advanced rider plan is designed for cyclists who ride all year around, and cycling is their primary sport. These cyclists can easily tackle the distance of the ESR. Their goal might be to ride the 540 miles at the highest average speed they can achieve every day or use the training stimulus of a big volume week to prepare for another event goal. The average speed of this group is generally 18-20 MPH.
Intermediate Training Plan
The intermediate rider plan is also designed for cyclists who ride all year around. These riders won’t have a problem tackling the distance, but it will be a significant challenge. The average speed of this group is generally 14-16 MPH.
Beginner Training Plan
This group consists of riders who are either brand new to cycling or start training in the spring and summer months just to prepare for the ESR. Average speed of this group is generally 10-12 MPH.
The biggest difference in these plans is the start date and the length. For beginners, I stayed with the original 22-week plan since most of those in this category don’t have an indoor training option and can’t ride outside until spring due to weather conditions. The intermediate and advanced plans assume you have an indoor training setup or can ride outdoors.
Before you begin, familiarize yourself with the terms below. Understanding your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) and breathing rate are especially important to ensure you’re working at the correct intensity. Read more about how about how to follow the ESR training plan below.
Whether this will be your first ESR or you are an experienced multi-day event rider, you’ll benefit from following one of the structured training plans.
Preparing your body for the challenge of riding 500+ miles isn’t just about riding more. You’ll achieve a better level of preparedness with quality training over quantity. Anyone can do the Empire State Ride; even a time-crunched athlete can feel confident at the start line if they train right.
Start every workout with a warm-up.
Warm-ups can vary, but you want to do at least 15 minutes of conversational pace riding before you start any high-intensity-interval workout. Focus on the execution of the intervals rather than time. After you warm up and complete the intervals, complete the remaining prescribed time of the at an easy endurance pace. Workouts will be listed with a total duration that is longer than the total time of the actual intervals to account for this.
I prescribed all workout intensities based on Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE), a measure of workload to determine how hard you feel you are exercising. In a training setting, the RPE scale is from 1-10 (1 being no exertion and 10 being a maximum effort). Each workout in the training plan has an RPE associated with it to help guide you to the prescribed intensity. Below, Table 7.1 Workouts, RPE and Breathing Rate lays out what you’re trying to accomplish with each workout to understand the scale.
Recovery Miles (RM)
Recovery miles need to be very easy to allow you to recover from previous workouts. They’ll range anywhere from 40 – 60 minutes and should be substantially easier than endurance miles. It should be 2-3 on an RPE scale and have a frequency of 2-3 times per week.
Endurance Miles (EM)
Much of your riding time will consist of endurance miles. Many people refer to this as their forever pace, but it’s also the time around your interval sets. These rides should be a 4-5 on the RPE scale and range from 90 minutes to 6+ hours. Your speed will vary with hills but remember to keep your rate of perceived exertion (RPE) the same. Going uphill at the same speed requires more work, which can turn your endurance miles into steady state quickly.
Tempo workouts are faster than endurance miles but not all out (at your “lactate threshold”). These workouts help develop a stronger aerobic engine by maintaining an effort outside of your comfort zone. They should be a 6 on an RPE scale and range from 15 – 45 minutes for each interval. Be very careful that you don’t let your intensity level get into your lactate threshold. It’s easy to let it creep up, but faster doesn’t always mean better. You need to be able to sustain that pace for longer periods of time to get the best adaptation.
Steady State (SS)
Steady state workouts are probably the most well-known of these workouts. They’re an important part of training and very strenuous. They should be done at or slightly below your lactate threshold at an RPE of 7-8. These intervals are shorter than tempo because of the intensity involved. Each interval ranges from 8 to 20 minutes and has a 2-to-1 recovery ratio. A typical workout may look like 3×10 min with 5 minutes of active recovery between each interval.
Power Intervals (PI)
Power Intervals are short, extremely strenuous intervals that help develop your VO2max. They last 1 to 5 minutes at an RPE of 10. Warming up before these is even more important, so make sure to get in 15-30 minutes of conversational riding before you start the intervals. The recovery period is 1 to 1, so 1-minute intervals have 1 minute of active recovery.
Fast Pedaling (FP)
This workout should be performed on a relatively flat section of road or on an indoor trainer. The gearing should be light, with low pedal resistance. Begin slowly and increase your pedal speed, starting out with around 15 or 16 pedal revolutions per 10-second count. This equates to a cadence of 90 to 96 RPM. While staying in the saddle, increase your pedal speed, keeping your hips smooth with no rocking.
Concentrate on pulling through the bottom of the pedal stroke and over the top. After one minute of fast pedaling, you should be maintaining 18 to 20 pedal revolutions per 10-second count, or a cadence of 108 to 120 RPM for the entire amount of time prescribed for the workout. Your heart rate will climb while doing this workout, but don’t use it to judge your training intensity. It is important that you try to ride the entire length of the fast pedaling workout with as few interruptions as possible.
Rest Between Intervals (RBI)
This is the rest time between each interval. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBI period.
Rest Between Sets (RBS)
This is the rest time between sets of intervals. Note that this is active rest. The RPE is low at 1-2 but don’t stop pedaling during the RBS period.
Here is a typical steady state (SS) interval workout:
60min w/ 3x6min (SS), 3min RBI
All workouts start with the total time. In this case, it’s 60 minutes. Within the overall time, there is a specific interval set of three intervals. Each interval is 6 minutes long at the Steady State (SS) intensity and the rest between each 6’ interval RBI is 3’. The total amount of time of the interval set is 24’. So, what to do with the remaining 36’? Use some of the time before the interval set to warm up and ride the remaining time, less 5’, for a cooldown, at endurance miles (EM) intensity.